In order to support science-based capacity building, the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) rely on methodical research and development activities aimed at identifying and eliminating military capability gaps. There are two main objectives for the research and development activities undertaken by the EDF: first, ensuring that the EDF’s capability development is supported by scientific research; second, developing military science competence in collaboration with universities and other partners as well as through integrating postgraduate studies with research and development activities. As envisioned by the Ministry of Defence in its research and development policy for 2014–2022, the Estonian Military Academy (EMA) serves as the national centre for military science. Additionally, the EMA has been assigned a special role in overseeing research and development activities in areas governed by the Ministry of Defence. The EMA is responsible for initiating research and development projects and coordinating their implementation, as well as engaging other structural units of the EDF, national defence agencies and other partners in research and development activities. The planning of research and development projects starts with the identification of capability and knowledge gaps by EDF structural units or national defence agencies, leading to the formulation of research questions. What is more, the EMA also bears the primary responsibility for the methodical development of critical research and development competencies (i.e. operational analysis, leadership, resource management and technology) and serves a supportive function in the development of national defence strategy and policy and the study of military history.
Within the EMA’s organisational structure, the development of military science and research is the responsibility of the Department of Applied Research,which is tasked with fostering collaboration between civilian and military scientists in order to ensure the EDF’s continued capacity building and sustainability. As of 2016, military science and technology are classified as a separate field of research in the national classification of fields of research.
For the purposes of disseminating the results of scientific research, the EMA oversees the publication of two peer-reviewed military research journals with international editorial boards: Estonian Journal of Military Studies (Sõjateadlane in Estonian) and ENDC Occasional Papers[ (as of 1 May, 2019 EMA Occasional Papers).
The research and development activities of the EMA serve the following objectives:
- coordinating research and development activities in the field of defence-related capacity building
- undertaking research and development activities, primarily in the fields of operational analysis, leadership, resource management and technology; and contributing to the fields of national defence strategy and policy, as well as military history
- engaging in international collaboration
- developing the EDF’s research and development potential by integrating scientific research with academic studies and training future military science experts
- supporting defence-related research and development activities in collaboration with universities and the defence industry